Golden Pipeline

National Trust of WA

Explore The Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail

A self-guided drive trail between the Perth Hills and Western Australia’s Eastern Goldfields. Go with the Flow. Follow the water to discover more about the audacious goldfields water supply scheme and Engineer CY O’Connor.

Discover The people and the Scheme

“Future generations, I am quite certain will think of us and bless us for our far seeing patriotism, and it will be said of us, as Isaiah said of old, ‘They made a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” – Sir John Forrest

The People

Thomas Cowley Hodgson

Thomas Cowley Hodgson: A Scapegoat for the Royal Commission?

Thomas Hodgson (1858-1939) was a very capable hydraulics engineer responsible for the design of many important aspects of the Scheme and, as O’Connor’s deputy, was Engineer-in-Charge of the scheme. After O’Connor’s death the Royal Commission’s proceedings were deliberately staged to incriminate Hodgson for the events leading up to O’Connor’s suicide.

Hodgson some years earlier had purchased land near Cunderdin with the objective of becoming a farmer when he retired from his engineering profession. During the design phase of the project No.3 pump station was located at Cunderdin and the Royal Commissioners concluded that Hodgson was responsible for locating the pump station at Cunderdin thereby increasing the value of his land. In fact the pump station was located at Cunderdin for technical reasons, a fact verified by an independent Commission of English Engineers that O’Connor had engaged to provide technical advice to the PWD design team.

The Cunderdin issue, and a somewhat unconventional but justifiable decision by O’Connor and Hodgson to negotiate with James Couston to design, manufacture and commission a mechanical caulking machine to speed up the pipelaying, led the Royal Commission to conclude that “improper acts by Hodgson finally unbalanced O’Connor’s already overstrained mind, leading to his suicide.” Hodgson was suspended from duty on 30 May, 1902, and resigned from the PWD in August 1902. His brilliant career as a hydraulics engineer was over.

Battye Library. Hodgson with colleagues Forbes and Reynoldson
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